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250          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

height unattainable by the exquisite quatrains or eight lines.
The language itself, which is the pehhua, being free from the
classical bondage, achieves a freedom, naturalness and virility
entirely undreamed of before. It is a language taken raw from
the people's mouths, and shaped into beauty by writers who
felt themselves free of the classical standards and who relied
solely on their artistic sense of sound and rhythm. Some
masters of the Yuan drama used a T^W patois with an inimitable
beauty of its own, which defies all translation either into
modern Chinese or into any foreign language. It can only be
suggested in the following:

Muzzy, dizzy, lackadaisical, I'm squatting smug-smugly on

an earthen divan.
Clatter, patter, the old p'op'o is shaking her coarse-great-big

Lousy, slouchy lies the donkey under the willow, his legs

Lapping, patting, that coolie's hand on the donkey's neck is


Oh, wake up a while!
Oh, wake up a while!
Time like a bullet past a window is flying!

óMa Chihyuan: Huangliangmeng.


Writers of dramatic poetry had to conform to the exigencies
of the operatic airs, but the lines were longer, the insertion of
extra syllables was allowed and the rhythm was broader and
more suitable to the vernacular language in which it was
written. The liberation of metre achieved in the Sung tgu
originating in songs and set to these airs, already provided for
a metre of irregular lengths, obeying the rhythm of the spoken
rather than the written language. This metre was still more
emancipated in the dramas. As an approximate example of
this irregular metre, I give here an English rendering of
passages in the Western Chamber (a masterpiece of the first order
in Chinese literature), which describe the beauty of Inging,
the heroine: